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ACSA takes the leap from member communications to marketing

Association of California School Administrators 
3 min read
Jun 6, 2023


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The Challenge

The Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) had a communications team with a strategy that effectively engaged their current members through print media and regular newsletters. But the organization felt they were missing something. They knew their yearly event, Every Child Counts Symposium, was valuable for non-members too, so they wanted to build a plan to understand, cultivate, and activate entirely new audiences.


With Feathr, ACSA went from communicating with members to effectively connecting with their entire community. As the Every Child Counts Symposium neared, they built a marketing strategy to reach new audiences through geofencing, lookalike, and search targeting campaigns. Once they had garnered awareness, they followed up with these new people through retargeting ads, nudging them to register.

Like so many member-based organizations, the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) had an effective communication strategy in place when it came to members. But several of their yearly events are valuable for members and non-members alike. 

How could they effectively reach and engage with these non-members who regularly attend other conferences? Or how could they reach new prospective members, inviting them to these highly valuable events?

Danelle Buckley is the director of events and operations and puts together 12 multi-day conferences a year, ranging from 150 people to 1,800 people. 

She said, “We have a communications department, and they’re very good at marketing to our members, but there are so many other people outside of our membership that are in our market that we're looking to reach to attend our conferences.”

Dipping their toes into marketing

The communications team was already busy building great content for their members. So Danelle decided to begin her marketing efforts recruiting specifically for the conferences she managed.

As a team with a lot already on their plate, Danelle knew it was simply about taking the right next step. She said, “We were looking for someone to help us ease into some different types of marketing.”

With Feathr, they began immediately with retargeting ad campaigns. These campaigns use data that you already own from your website. When someone visits your event registration page, you now have the opportunity to follow up with them as they travel around the web, reminding them to register with a timely, well-placed retargeting ad.

Or if they visited an about us page, you can instead follow up with a “Learn More” ad to get them back to learning about your organization.

And when someone’s starting with ads, there’s often questions around how to set the right budget. Danelle goes with Feathr’s AI recommended spend: “I often go with the suggestion. That's what I've done in the past and in most cases it comes in under the recommended budget, which is great.”

Taking ads to the next level

Retargeting ads were only the beginning for Danelle and her team. They were actively following up with those who had already expressed interest, but now it was time to lean into finding new audiences and then developing them into regular attendees.

One of the first campaigns ACSA launched was a search targeting campaign. By serving ads to people who had searched online for words related to the event, ACSA was able to get in front of a new audience who had already expressed interest in the conference’s topic.

Danelle knew that the most effective marketing would be attuned to the unique person hearing the message. Talking about one specific group who could benefit from their conference, she said, “Before, we didn't really have a way of reaching school counselors and other non-administrative staff. It was just word of mouth or a partner passing on our information to them.”

With Feathr, they now had the opportunity of running Lookalike campaigns for groups like this. Their team could build a list of counselors that had already attended events in the past, and then Feathr could connect that list with third-party data, serving ads specifically targeted to people who were similar to the list they built.

They also launched a geofencing campaign where they showed ads to everyone who had attended their Annual Leadership Conference. These people would likely be interested in attending the Every Child Counts Symposium, too. And they may even be ambassadors for the conference, spreading awareness throughout their networks.

Speaking about her experience diving into Feathr ads, she says, “Just understanding that there are other ways to reach people than only our newspaper and magazine. I think the way that we've been doing it, testing these strategies with the help of the Feathr team, has been great. It's been great to see the results as well.”

Clear insights for the future

Often, the best marketing happens after a campaign ends. Instead of shutting the book and running to the next task, taking the time to unpack what happened will pay massive dividends during future campaigns.

Danelle is often in her Feathr dashboard measuring what’s working and what isn’t. 

She says, “The dashboard is what I look at the most – being able to see where things are effective. And the visuals are really helpful to drill down and see who we captured and where they're from. What campaign was it that they were a part of? Having all those things right there in one place is really helpful.”

Danelle is happy about the results her Feathr ad campaigns have produced. But even more, she believes the platform has shifted the way her organization and team communicate their story. 

She said, “I've been with the Association for 25 years and I've been saying all along, we're good at reaching our members, but we are not good at reaching non-members, so being able to see that in action with Feathr has been really rewarding.”

For Danelle, much of this shift was from a communications strategy to a marketing strategy: “It's reframing the way we think as a department as far as our current strategy.”

“Just understanding that there are other ways to reach people than only our newspaper and magazine. I think the way that we've been doing it, testing these strategies with the help of the Feathr team, has been great. It's been great to see the results as well.”
Danelle Buckley

Director of Events & Operations, ACSA

ACSA full logo


The mission of the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) is to be the driving force for an equitable, world-class education system, and the development and support of inspired educational leaders who meet the diverse needs of all California students. They currently serve 17,000 active members who are committed to putting students first in the educational experience. Learn more at https://www.acsa.org/


Sacramento, CA


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